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Get Your Architecture Fix—On Ice!

Published: 02/20/2011

As if it's not enough of a sensory delight to glide along one of Canada's historic rivers on a starlit winter evening, the good folks at The Forks have added a few attractions along the way. Skaters, skiers and strollers get to see some extreme architecture on Manitoba's most famous winter trail.

As if it's not enough of a sensory delight to glide along one of Canada's historic rivers on a starlit winter evening, the good folks at The Forks have added a few attractions along the way. Skaters, skiers and strollers get to see some extreme architecture on Manitoba's most famous winter trail.

The Assiniboine Credit Union River Trail is home to a collection of weird and wonderful architectural marvels, each cleverly designed as a warming hut. So lace up the blades or bundle up baby in a sled and see what a warming hut can be (because most Manitoba warming huts are dreary used plywood shacks).

It's a competition (now in its second year) to see who can birth the shelter that pushes the envelope of design.

"This competition is really gaining in terms of international recognition," says Paul Jordan, Chief Operating Officer, The Forks. "We had over 130 entries in our competition and they were from every corner of the globe. With the assistance of our partners, we can see that this is just going to get bigger and bigger each and every year."

So let's meet this year's winners!

Hut: Woodpile
Team: Noa Biran and Roy Talmon, Tel Aviv, Israel
The hut's walls are made from firewood, piled high inside a metal frame. As the winter goes on and the wood gets used for stoking the campfire inside, the hut's appearance changes.

Hut: Under the Covers
Team: Robert B. Trempe, Philadelphia, PA
This one looks like someone is lifting a cover of snow and inviting us in. A frame of wood keeps the dome safely above our heads. Inside, there's no wind and it's quiet as can be.

Hut: Jellyfish
Team: Patkau Architects, Vancouver, BC
This collection of wooden swirling structures was inspired by one of the architect's memories of seeing fish frozen in river ice. Each hut is big enough only for one, but offers an out-of-the-wind break. Plus the wood smells really nice.

Hut: Cocoon
Team: University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB
This billowy, open-ended hut seems to gather all of that gorgeous Manitoba light to create a bright resting spot along the trail. A flexible fabric covers the red framing system. If your timing is good, you might just catch a storyteller or an artist holding court inside the hut.

The winners will be joined by four of the huts from last year's exposition: Carcass, Apparition, Fir Hut and Ice Cube. You can tell you friends that you strapped on your skates inside a carcass. So while winter is still with us, get down to The Forks to see Warming Hut v.2011: An Art +Architecture Exposition on Ice. 

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